City floats dock overhaul plan

Kitsap Transit now has all the approvals it needs to move forward with its plan to completely replace the aging Sidney Dock, located on the Port Orchard waterfront.

On Monday night, the Port Orchard City Council members were unanimously in favor of giving the go-ahead on the $1.98 million, grant-funded project. The existing dock, which is at least a half-century old, has increasingly become an unwelcome eyesore for the city’s downtown. The dock offers access to the former Horluck Foot Ferry, now owned by Kitsap Transit.

“I graduated from South Kitsap High School in (the 1950s) and I don’t think anything’s been done to that ferry ramp in all that time,” said former Councilman Warren Van Zee.

Kitsap Transit proposes ripping down the rotting pier and floats, uprooting more than 100 deteriorating creosote pilings and replacing the whole facility with a new dock and float made of pre-fabricated concrete and steel. It also plans to make upland improvements to the land immediately adjacent to the dock in order to improve the site’s aesthetic appeal.

“If you’ve ridden the ferry lately, you know that’s a facility that’s badly in need of repair and replacement,” said transit transportation and land use planner Darryl Piercy.

Included in Kitsap Transit’s ferry improvement plan is a list of upgrades that would serve its adjacent transit center as well.

Kitsap Transit proposes improving the Sidney Avenue bus shelter and widening the boardwalk in that area to offer more protection to pedestrians. Currently, when both ferry and buses are offloading passengers, conflicts between the two groups’ paths tend to push pedestrians out into the street. By widening the boardwalk and installing raised crosswalks, transit officials hope to eliminate the safety hazards created by vehicles and pedestrians competing for space.

“Functionally, we feel this project is a significant improvement,” Piercy said.

The only concerns expressed during Monday’s public hearing on the project came from Gerry Bruckart, who owns Olde Central Antique Mall on Bay Street. Olde Central’s main parking lot abuts the proposed construction area and Bruckart was concerned the work would drive her customers away.

Piercy, however, said the only construction that’s likely to impact Olde Central is the proposed upgrade to the paved area in front of the library. Kitsap Transit plans to repave that area with decorative stamped concrete and add benches and planters. Although the benches and other accessories could take several days to install, the paving — the only part of the job to require heavy equipment — will be done in less than a day.

“I feel it will have very minimal impact, but we can certainly work with that property owner,” Piercy said.

Now that the City Council has approved a conditional use permit for the project, Kitsap Transit can technically go out for bids anytime. Piercy estimates construction could begin as soon as the “fish window” opens next July — all shoreline construction must be done at a time it won’t interfere with the spawning habits of native fish. Because so many of the dock elements can be pre-fabricated, Piercy said, work can probably be completed by October 2004.

While the dock is closed, the Port of Bremerton will be donating float space on its Port Orchard Marina, located immediately adjacent to the Sidney facility.

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